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The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/29/09 7:07 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Tina Hamilton 6/29/09 10:46 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/29/09 9:12 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/29/09 9:14 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/29/09 10:49 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/29/09 10:52 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/29/09 10:53 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Mark E Defrates 6/30/09 12:05 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/30/09 12:34 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... tarin greco 6/30/09 12:40 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/30/09 12:48 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Mark E Defrates 6/30/09 1:26 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... tarin greco 6/30/09 1:46 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... tarin greco 6/30/09 1:47 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/30/09 2:57 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Mark E Defrates 6/30/09 4:32 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 6/30/09 4:48 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Tina Hamilton 6/30/09 1:10 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Tina Hamilton 6/30/09 1:12 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 6/30/09 5:55 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 6/30/09 5:56 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Chuck Kasmire 6/30/09 6:38 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/1/09 5:49 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/1/09 5:52 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/1/09 5:54 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/1/09 5:55 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Tina Hamilton 7/1/09 9:54 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Tina Hamilton 7/1/09 10:32 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 7/1/09 10:58 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Chuck Kasmire 7/1/09 1:49 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 7/1/09 5:22 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... tarin greco 7/1/09 11:48 PM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 7/2/09 3:54 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Chuck Kasmire 7/2/09 4:44 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Chuck Kasmire 7/2/09 4:45 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/2/09 6:41 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 7/2/09 8:36 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Tina Hamilton 7/2/09 8:51 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Kenneth Folk 7/2/09 9:02 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/2/09 9:19 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Chuck Kasmire 7/2/09 9:26 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... triple think 7/2/09 9:34 AM
RE: The Shadow Knows... Mike L 7/2/09 11:10 AM
The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 7:07 AM
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

Some of us have had a lot of experience working with the 'shadow side' of the body/mind. It seemed timely to start a thread for discussion of working with that sort of stuff. I have some experience with this kind of work both personally and with others so if no one else can reply to a comment or question I will do my best to either address it or research it further.
-triplethink

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 10:46 AM as a reply to triple think.
OK, interest stirred.

I'm not exactly sure where you're going with this, but I'm guessing it's relative to mental health issues and/or various other psyche/physio manifestations, vestiges, etc., in relationship to ones meditation (and spiritual practice). If I'm way off, then please clarify.
Do you have some lead in page to this discussion, or is this it?

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 9:12 PM as a reply to triple think.
Good question. What the heck am I talking about? Hmmmm. You know you've got me thinking, now that I'm considering how I would define 'shadow work' that this almost calls for a completely different forum. This might be a bit too much for folks here...

To put it simply I would define shadow work as the discovery, from time to time, of the 'dark side' of the 'light', learning for instance how 'love kills' or 'trust undermines' and all sorts of unwelcome and uncomfortable things like that, and then dealing with this in a conscious way.

I'll give a really, really tame example. At one time I had this girlfriend with two cats. Nice girl, nice cats. Anyways, we moved to a certain town and the cats would go out and occasionally get torn up by the next door neighbors dog. After a couple thousand dollars in vet bills I started to get a bit uptight about this and sort of freaked out on the neighbor, who of course didn't give a sh_t about it. After that I had to ask myself how it was that my care and concern for the cats could justifiably translate into a rage-on with the neighbor and deal with that.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 9:14 PM as a reply to triple think.
Or when this board won't display your post so you write it again and post it again only to discover that now you have two posts the same up! So, you have to re-write one. (Just kidding)

I have had a ton of shadow issues around family, friends, relationships, religion, non-human sentient life forms, etc.. The last page I wrote generated nothing but misunderstanding so I wasn't much motivated to write one for this topic. I'll give it some thought.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 10:49 PM as a reply to triple think.
Ok, I've been giving this some thought. I went looking for someone else's definition of 'shadow work' to get me 'off the hook', I found a reasonably good one so I will post the link and a brief extract from that page. But first I'll offer some preliminary thoughts on the subject in relation to 'insight work'.

As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on the question of whether or not the end of the insight practice is the end of things in the sense that one is 'fully awake' or 'enlightened', I just don't know and I am comfortable with saying so. I can see how it is the end of being fooled by the body and mind into thinking that it is anything other than what it is but I do not think it is the end of wisdom and maybe not the end of the wisdom necessary for full awakening, but I don't know so I guess we will just have to see.

With insight work one's being can be reduced to it's constituent parts, those parts can be individually examined, re-examined and further reduced to the three characteristics and the arising and passing of phenomena, this kind of work is focused on discovering and examining all of those parts. Simply becoming aware of all of this is a fairly comprehensive & transformative internal process.

However, in addition to this kind of work there is, at least potentially, work involved in how all of these parts are configured, how they work together and then how as a whole they relate and integrate into the world at large. Sometimes, in the course of that work, which has been loosely termed 'integration work' here at DhO, one finds that something that one had thought was a good thing also has a negative side or is not as wise and pure as it might be and so one has to re-evaluate one's nature or one's thinking and find 'a better understanding' and 'a better way of being'.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 10:52 PM as a reply to triple think.
from:
http://www.drjontry.com/workshops/shadow.htm

Shadow Work

The goal of Shadow work is to integrate the dark side of ourselves; the side we have attempted to hide or run from; and the side we are not aware of. Shadow work cannot be accomplished with a single method or trick of mind. It is a complex ongoing process calling for great commitment, vigilance and honesty. Owning our shadow involves a deepening and widening of consciousness to include what has been rejected. Shadow work involves an ongoing process of taking another point of view to respond to life with our undeveloped traits and our instinctual sides. It involves shining the light of consciousness into our dark corners and owning what we find there as our own. To live the "tension of the opposites" - holding both good and evil, right and wrong, light and dark, in our own hearts.

cont. ->

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/29/09 10:53 PM as a reply to triple think.
Author Robert Johnson states that doing Shadow work means peering into dark corners of our minds where secret shames lie hidden and violent voices are silent. Doing Shadow work means asking ourselves to examine closely and honestly what it is about a particular individual that irritates us or repels us; what it is about a racial or religious group that horrifies or captivates us; and what it is about a lover that charms us and leads us to idealize him or her. Doing Shadow work means making an agreement with one's self to engage in an internal conversation that can, at some time down the road, result in an authentic self-acceptance and a real compassion for others.

To take the first step and acknowledge the darkness lying inside every human heart, can be sobering and humbling. It may be initiated by a betrayal by a loved one; a lie by a trusted friend; a deceit by an honored teacher; rape or mugging by a total stranger. In every case, meeting the shadow robs us of our innocence.

If we are able to see in the mirror, and see these behaviors in ourselves, recognize the deeper truth that the lover and the liar, the saint and the sinner live in every one of us, we may be stunned and paralyzed at the gap between who we are, and who we thought we were.

Like Beauty and the Beast, our beauty is deepened as our beastliness is honored.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 12:05 AM as a reply to triple think.
"The goal of Shadow work is to integrate the dark side of ourselves..."

You have just just given my response to the question I sometimes get asked: Are you a black magician? To which I respond: Yes, to the extent that my use of magick is designed to integrate the dark or hidden side of myself. No, if you think black magick (dark magick, the left hand path) is magickal power used to hurt other sentient beings.

I don't want to take you off topic. I just wanted to mention types of shadow work analogous to that which you refer are practiced extensively by 1) chaos and other types of postmodern magicians doing black magick rites 2) vajrayana practitioners doing work with entities such as mahakala or practicing the chod ritual, 3) voudoo practitioners in possession rites with entities such as Baron Samedi. By generating altered states of consciousness through ritual and focussing the awareness on that which disturbs, horrifies, or frightens us it is possible to access a deep level of psyche, to become familiar with and to clear complex and destructive patterns within us. This is also quite dangerous and not for the faint of heart. Judging from descriptions of the Dark Night and Fear it doesn't look any more dangerous than the states of consciousness accessed by concentration meditation tho!

Thanks for the thread. There is an obvious and it seems well recognized deficit with the samadhic approach (limited emotional) to enlightenment discussed on DhO which you have isolated in this topic.

- Mark

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 12:34 AM as a reply to triple think.
Hi Kunzangshenpen

One thing I have been thinking is that the books I have looked at on this subject, mostly from psychotherapists, all seem pretty weak. I don't know if it is the insight work or my hypersensitivity or simply a particularly difficult lifetime but for whatever reason it seems to me that shadow work can go quite a bit deeper than it appears to at first glance, second look and even after considerable digging.

Are there any books or links you would recommend based on your experience with magick practices or otherwise? I'm always interested in throwing more light on this aspect of my own makeup. Thanks in advance for anything you are willing to share.

Here is a link to a page with three book reviews on the subject from the psychotherapy side of the street:

http://www.menweb.org/shadow.htm
Our Shadows
A review of 3 excellent books
Copyright © 1997 by Bert H. Hoff

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 12:40 AM as a reply to triple think.
hmm.. how about it being awakened when i remember how i have betrayed a loved one, lied to a trusting friend, deceived an honored teacher (or student), and raped or mugged a total stranger*? ^_^

the 'shadow work' i'm interested in doing doesn't either deepen the beauty or honour the beast. i'll be honest with you - i think those are dead-ends in terms of making a new kind of difference. loving-kindness arises from malice, compassion from sorrow, equanimity from turmoil and wearying of the conflict. that these transmutations can occur is indeed remarkable, and has held the tide for so long, and has kept some of us from slaughtering some of us others, sometimes; but fundamentally, nothing changes. and im not talking about the kind of 'fundamental' that insight practice is and does, im talking about the possibility and potential of eliminating or at least attenuating those destructive urges and instincts to an unprecedented degree, the likes of which we, both as individuals and as well as as a group (of individuals), have probably never known before. i think this is wholly possible, and experience it to a degree i had previously only imagined, and wished for, but didn't actually live. i haven't done this through the deepening of beauty nor the honouring of beastliness, i'm doing this by emotionally accepting them both, while at the same time, intellectually rejecting both flat-out.. no compromises.

ach, the controversy ^_^

*(or some such thing, i swear i've never raped nor mugged anyone)

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 12:48 AM as a reply to triple think.
Hi theprisonergreco

I'm intrigued by this comment and I would very much appreciate it if you could elaborate on it, particularly about attenuation and elimination of qualities and how that relates to the acceptance of the same.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 1:26 AM as a reply to triple think.
"Are there any books or links you would recommend based on your experience with magick practices or otherwise?"

Hi triplethink:

I'll put together a little annotated book list of dark magick for buddhists over the next couple of days. There's just gigantic amounts of complete twaddle in the field of modern magick. I've always used Buddhism as my anchor to avoid drifting too far into the wrecks of megalomanic delusion that are a primary hazard for practitioners and an unfortunate characteristic of some of the best books. But there is good stuff in all the raving. "Weak", however, they ain't.

- Mark

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 1:46 AM as a reply to triple think.
a lot of what i've learnt about this matter can be found at the actualism website (be warned! for those with but a passing interest, much of it will only be much to wade through), but here goes:

that acceptance of particular qualities can lead to attenuation and elimination works kind of similarly to how acceptance of turmoil (that becomes apparent when one sits down for meditation) leads to it quieting down noticeably just by paying attention. this part is nothing new. but here's where it diverges: i break the kinds of experiences i have into 3 types, based on the kind of feelings im experiencing.

firstly, the bad feelings, which are the ones that are explicitly painful. it's not hard to recognise these - anger, frustration, irritation, sadness, grief, melancholy, envy, hatred, etc.. and exhaustive list is not necessary.

then, the good feelings, which are the ones that i'm seeing are antidotal to bad feelings, like love and compassion, bliss and (even, yes even) some feelings of deep peace (this one's kind of tricky). and all the permutations thereof.

and then there's the non-antidotal sense of well-being (as different from feeling high or feeling profound), intimacy (as different from communion), and engagement with what im actually experiencing (as different from either a resentment of it or a dissociation from it).

(cont.)

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 1:47 AM as a reply to triple think.
this last type is a cheerful sort of way of being with the world as it is and people as they are (as opposed to a transcendence of it), and i find that being thus cheerful, i am free to be sincere and commited to further investigation.. as well as free to be cheerful emoticon because its a pretty damn good state of affairs, this last type here can be easily confused with the good feelings even though they are actually worlds apart in how they feel (i've made my fair share of this mistake), but the distinction is vital. let's call them 'felicitous feelings' (as different from good feelings), which is the term the actualism website gives em.

breaking it down into these 3, the good, the bad, and the felicitious, i see how all these 3 are 'me', and 'i' am them, and there really is no way out of this. so i see that if i wish to live a happy and harmless life, which i do - that be the point, i cant really escape these feelings, and the urges they're based on, either through suppression/repression, or via transcendence. this is the emotional acceptance part. now the intellectual refusal to accept applies to the first 2 - the bad feelings and the good feelings. i refuse to accept them because i have a vital interest in being happy and harmless, and find that, because i am my feelings and my feelings are me, intent is enough to make the issue workably malleable. i can simply choose, each moment again, to be the third kind of feelings. i choose to be cheerful, to be sincere, to be committed. in fact, i *am* cheer, i *am* sincerity, i *am* commitment. and i am this/do this all day long.

there are a couple techniques i actively employ (post more about those later) but perhaps the most direct and straight-forward one is asking myself again and again, either verbally or non-verbally, 'how am i experiencing this moment of being alive?'

it works like a charm.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 2:57 AM as a reply to triple think.
hi theprisonergreco/tarin

Do you have a link for that actualism website? Thx.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 4:32 AM as a reply to triple think.
"there are a couple techniques i actively employ (post more about those later) but perhaps the most direct and straight-forward one is asking myself again and again, either verbally or non-verbally, 'how am i experiencing this moment of being alive?'"

There was a nichirenshoshu technique I was taught a long time ago called, if I remember correctly, bono sokai bodai, which was translated to me as poison into medicine, but it always seemed to me in that context to be an excuse for spiritual materialism (a lot of what psychology calls magical thinking in that practice). The idea, however, was not too dissimilar to Trungpa Rinpoche's admonition to light the torch of your enlightenment with the flames of your defilements. More recently one of Lama Tarchin's students, Lama Yeshe Wangmo, taught me a technique where you clap your hands and say "Phat" when your mindfulness strays from the experience of the moment. Don't do this in the bakery department of the local supermarket, especially in America - you will upset the plump! I ended up using vague guttural Tibetan like noises when I wobble out of the present moment. Then people just think I'm cursing or clearing my throat.

-Mark

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 4:48 AM as a reply to triple think.
Theprisonergreco can't log on from work. He says, in email, the link to the actualism website is:
http://www.actualfreedom.com.au

Looking forward to that booklist Kunzangshenpen, I'm kind of saddened by how shallow depth psychology is. Here's hoping that the magick people, chaotic or otherwise have got this sorted out. It's been quite a few years since I read in that area, could be interesting.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 1:10 PM as a reply to triple think.
When everyone in the world knows the beautiful as beautiful
ugliness comes into being;
When everyone knows the good, then the not good comes to be.
The mutual production of being and nonbeing,
The mutual completion of difficult and easy.
(excerpt from: Te-Tao Ching, (ch 2) - Robert G. Hendricks translation)

The Yin -Yang concept can be used as a metaphor in understanding various relationships relative to differing conditions that share the patterns of dynamic contrasts. As Theprisonergreco stated: "loving-kindness arises from malice, compassion from sorrow, equanimity from turmoil and wearying of the conflict. that these transmutations can occur is indeed remarkable..."

[cont -->

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 1:12 PM as a reply to triple think.
Interestingly, this "dark side" is natural within the cosmic ebb and flow, but we have been conditioned by our dualistic view to differentiate and label this and that as good or bad. Then from there we stigmatize, attach guilt, avoid, and deny to the point that various feelings and memories get buried deep within ones sense of "self." So, there they lie dormant until some perceived external stimulus seems to provoke some sort of arising... from this we may react with feelings of fear, anger, etc. Then we stigmatize, adding on whatever feelings arose, and then bury it. The cycle continues.

Really, wouldn't it be better to investigate these feelings deeply without differentiation into separateness with labeling as good or bad? Then, the shedding of the pseudo-shell (self) can occur naturally, and allow for relatively painless transformation to ones true nature.

The Tantric path seeks to transform basic human passions of desire and aversion into spiritual growth and development.
This is why I think Tibetan Yogic Tantra practice (as well as Hindu and other yogic tantra) is an immensely beneficial addition to further nourish ones spiritual progress (ongoing).

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 5:55 PM as a reply to triple think.
I think of the Solar System. From our point of view here on Earth, there are some things that are hidden from our view even though they are nearby. For example, the far side of the moon is always hidden from us. But it’s part of us, because we are the Solar System, so it would be unwise to ignore it. So we go to great trouble and expense to explore the far side of the moon. And it’s worth it; so much of what we find there can be reclaimed as our own. It’s the work of a lifetime, so we never give up that exploration. But as we are exploring there, we look up and see the Sun, which shines on both the near and far sides of the moon. And it occurs to us that the Sun is the source of all light and heat and therefore the Sun is where we should look for happiness.

So we move toward the Sun, which is the center of the Solar System, which is us. The Sun is far away, and it takes a lot of work to get there. Some of us will arrive, others will not. But somewhere, along the way, we notice that even the Sun is supported and suffused by space. Space is unique in that it does not change. Only the things within space change. And we realize that what we really want is not to seek and find, but to be happy. We want the happiness that does not depend upon conditions. So, we turn our attention away from the Sun for just a moment and notice that we are already in space. We have never left it. We reflect upon the empty nature of space, which is the background and support for everything. There really isn’t any thing... (continued below)

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 5:56 PM as a reply to triple think.
(continued from above)

There really isn't any thing called space; space is just emptiness.

But space is not only empty; it is also self-aware. This space doesn’t come from anyplace or go anyplace. It’s just here, being empty and self-aware. And the entire Solar System and the entire Universe is not other than this space. The ten thousand things arise and disappear within this empty, self-aware, and timeless space. That’s when we realize that the happiness that is not dependent upon conditions is our essential nature. This primordially aware, empty space is all around us and inside of us. We are this space and this space is us. The happiness that does not depend upon conditions is already here. So we stop and rest. And in that resting, which happens now... there is only this perfect timeless moment. This perfect moment of pure awareness is the most precious jewel of all the Buddhas. The Buddha is you. May you realize Buddha-nature now.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
6/30/09 6:38 PM as a reply to triple think.
“The goal of Shadow work is to integrate the dark side of ourselves; the side we have attempted to hide or run from; and the side we are not aware of. Shadow work cannot be accomplished with a single method or trick of mind. It is a complex ongoing process calling for great commitment, vigilance and honesty. Owning our shadow involves a deepening and widening of consciousness to include what has been rejected. ...doing Shadow work means peering into dark corners of our minds where secret shames lie hidden and violent voices are silent. Doing Shadow work means asking ourselves to examine closely and honestly what it is about a particular individual that irritates us or repels us; ...and what it is about a lover that charms us and leads us to idealize him or her. “

Good stuff nathan, thank you. One source – though a bit dated – is Wilber's “No Boundary” that looks at this process as being at the very core of the awakening process. Still a good read. Another book I have found really helpful is Reggie Ray's “Touching Enlightenment”.

“Shadow work cannot be accomplished with a single method “ - lately I have been thinking that all practices may have a shadow side to them – a blind side that at some point needs to be worked with. If this is true then we will need to look at complementary practices to work with those blind sides.

Another aspect is that, imho, the further we go in this awakening process the more we can miss these blind sides or overlook them.

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
7/1/09 5:49 AM as a reply to triple think.
hi CheleK/Chuck

I don't know if all practices necessarily have to have a blind side but I do think that each of us is 'a universe within the universe' and that no mere 'practice' is going to encompass everything that we are. The insight process is a highly effective course of practice for 'waking up' awareness. I think that in the context of satipatthana, vipassana becomes much more of a complete body/mind awareness than it is when practiced in an increasingly narrow manner in relation to the senses, the mind and mental phenomena. That the body & mind are intimately co-dependent and bound up with each other becomes increasingly self evident to those who are paying attention to both.

So, what can become aware of all that is going on within that body/mind? Well, presumably a fully awakened consciousness can. So it is 'a little bit confusing' to committed students/followers and the great unwashed masses when their/the 'awakened gurus' turn out to be, in one manner or another, as f__ked up as they are. As far as I can see, this is a pattern that the Buddha managed to overcome and I suspect that it takes full blown Buddhahood to entirely overcome it, which is why I don't expect to see integrity on that order of magnitude again until another Buddha shows up. This is where I think the monastic vinaya/discipline is intended to fit in, as a proactive & preventative measure. It is intended to keep a person humble, simple & focused.

In the final analysis a moment of Buddhamind is not being a Buddha in the full sense of what that is, especially if in the next moment one is back to being whatever else one might be in that vast universe that is each of us. It's just like stepping into the ocean doesn't mean that you are the ocean, it means that for that time you have a sense of what the ocean is.

cont. ->

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
7/1/09 5:52 AM as a reply to triple think.
I think the big blind spot which more often than not forms within 'gurus' is a result of having concluded that they have 'arrived somewhere' and that they are now at the 'end of something', that they have 'finished'. To which I would reply, "Really? What is it about everything you have learned so far that leads you to conclude that such a thing is possible? Look again." I don't really blame the gurus for this either, it is a co-creation, largely formed from way that students and followers defer to them, respect them, idolize them and the way that this results in charisma and all sorts of things. So it is not just them, it is the same dynamic involved with most any public figure. This kind of dynamic hollows people out, empties them of self awareness in one way while it builds up a veneer of surface energy that is very dynamic but also often very shallow.

Your right, shadow work goes to all the places within that most 'spiritual people' last want to go, and it does so with fear and trembling and respect and with all the courage that one can summon up. As Bruce Cockburn once sung, "you've got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight'.

It's true that when one has had a taste of the jhanas, ordinary physical sensuality pales in comparison. On the other hand, for example, in conjunction with concentration, sexuality becomes something else altogether, as any tantric adept could tell you.

cont. ->

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
7/1/09 5:54 AM as a reply to triple think.
So the worldly 'stakes', the rewards & the cost of sensuality, tend to go up and up with this. It's like going to the next table in a great big 'all or nothing' poker tournament. I'd suggest that one do this with their eyes open, at least, understanding what you have 'on the line'. Everything in life is like this, you move in one direction, or another, and you reap what you sow. If you do everything mindfully, with the light of as full of an internal & external awareness as possible, then the shadows start to become visible everywhere, both within and without. Then you can start to investigate and work with all of this thought & energy that is the universe within and the universe without.

Turning to the shadow work reveals all sorts of blind spots, weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and it is intimately tied up with causation, with 'this leads to that' awareness, with wisdom and it is a wisdom of the dark side of the low and the lowly within oneself. Not for the timid. This dhamma is not for pussies.

cont. ->

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
7/1/09 5:55 AM as a reply to triple think.
It is relatively easy to deal with small problems when they are small. Small problems are small when awareness is small. When awareness is developed, as it is in most viable spiritual practices, small problems become bigger and more complex and therefore more difficult to deal with. The way to deal with them is to return to being small, to being simple, to that beginner mind that doesn't see the mountain, only the next step. I've seen a lot of people develop their awareness but fail to develop the rest of themselves at the same time and that leads to some monstrous consequences at times. That is the shadow, writ large. So don't sweat the small stuff, it's all small stuff, as they say. But don't fail to deal with it expediently either or else it will come back when it has grown as large as your awareness has and then you will have a really big problem to deal with.

Probably the biggest blind spot I know of is non-duality (but it's by no means the only one), you can hide an endless amount of your own personal bullshit in that space. The only remedy is to go back, pick it up again, own it again and deal with it. After knowing the meditative heights this is ugly, brutal, stinky, nasty grunt work, but no one else is going to do it for you, they are only going to note that you haven't done it either.

metta & upekkha
-triplethink/nathan

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
7/1/09 9:54 AM as a reply to triple think.
Thanks Nathan, for articulating this so clearly and with such integrity. Full concurrence here to what you said, but I do have one question: Although, I think I understand what you're saying about non-duality probably being one of the biggest blind spots, but could you please expound on this further?

RE: The Shadow Knows...
Answer
7/1/09 10:32 AM as a reply to triple think.
It's for this reason that perhaps it's good to build within ones practice not only awareness, but also ongoing mindfulness of the body/mind connection with such practices as Qigong (earth - heart/mind - heaven). Since you're a qigong (aka: Chi Kung) practitioner, do you find that this practice is helpful in this way?

RE: The Shadow Knows...
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7/1/09 10:58 AM as a reply to triple think.
Thanks, Nathan. This is a great thread, and you've expressed the essential questions beautifully. I also like the way you've tied shadow work and dharma together.

"Probably the biggest blind spot I know of is non-duality (but it's by no means the only one), you can hide an endless amount of your own personal bullshit in that space."-Nathan

Let's parse this a bit. The problem is not non-duality itself, which after all, is the very essence of enlightenment according to many traditions. The problem, and you alluded to this as well, is that something as big as non-duality gives you plenty of space to hide your stuff. However, it's the concept of non-duality rather than the reality of it that creates problems. The realization of non-duality doesn't prevent us from doing our shadow work any more than it automatically conveys perfect wisdom.

Let's also look at the way our expectations interact with our shadows. If we believe that enlightenment brings freedom from anger, for example, and then we get enlightened, only to find that anger still arises, we have several choices. 1st, we could abandon our mistaken preconceptions about the end of anger. 2nd, we could conclude that we are not yet enlightened. 3rd, we could attempt to *act* enlightened, according to our model. (I'm sure there are other possibilities that I've missed.) The 1st option is my favorite. The 2nd is problematic because it uses preconceptions to define enlightenment but doesn't allow the actual experience to transform our beliefs.

Notice that the 3rd option is none other than burying the shadow. So, there is a relationship between unrealistic ideas of enlightenment and the shadow. This is why I believe it's important for those who believe they are enlightened to show their human frailties to their students and dharma friends. Honesty is the shadow's worst enemy.

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7/1/09 1:49 PM as a reply to triple think.
The problem with number one – and where the shadow can enter – is “we could abandon our mistaken preconceptions about the end of anger”. How do I know that my preconception is mistaken? I could easily fool myself by allowing such thought/emotion constructs to arise - by simply noting there presence - without digging into the deeper somatic experience from which it arises. Only by doing this deep work could I test to see if my preconception was mistaken or whether I am fooling myself. In my experience, if I fail to dig deep into the somatic charge underlying emotions then I miss the integration potential of that experience. Put another way, I think that anger represents an aspect of our experience which is still enfolded - not yet integrated - and calls to be worked with.

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7/1/09 5:22 PM as a reply to triple think.
"I could easily fool myself by allowing such thought/emotion constructs to arise - by simply noting there presence - without digging into the deeper somatic experience from which it arises."-CheleK

Hi Chuck,

I'd like to explore this further with you and learn about your experience. The part I don't think I understand is whether anger is arising and being skillfully dealt with in the moment or whether it is just no longer arising. I certainly agree that anger is significant and has great potential to cause harm to oneself and others. So, when it arises, it has to be dealt with somehow, which could mean anything from simple restraint to very sophisticated energetic redirection to vipassana investigation, etc.

What occurs to me so far is that if anger is arising, it is arising; noting its presence without deeper investigation isn't causing it to arise. If you are saying that once it arises, there are some skillful and some not so skillful ways to deal with it, I think you are right.

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7/1/09 11:48 PM as a reply to triple think.
nathan,

yeah. and once someone sees that, like really sees that, then non-duality dont mean a thing, and i dont say that flippantly cos i see it myself. all the crap, the anger, the grief, the abuse, the conflict, the tragedy, etc, etc, is the way things are (i can emotionally accept this), but the way things are aint good enough (i wont intellectually accept this). post-awakening, i think the only work worth doing is the investigation of what makes 'me', and what makes 'me' unhappy and unharmless.. caring enough to set the matter right. the Great Perfection, as kenneth says, doesnt care if i live or die, or am happy or sorrowful, or harmless or malicious... but i do. daring to care is caring to dare, to borrow some words.

the biggest danger of non-duality is fatalism. of course, one can wait for evolution to do its thing.. perhaps some humans in the future will find a way to live in peace and harmony on this earth, intelligently and with regard for one another. or maybe humans will go extinct, and then eventually, millions of years later, another species will rise and get past this point we've been at for millenia (if you count by our self-aware personal and social warfare), or millions of years (if you count by our instinctual warfare). evolution's got all the time in the world... whereas i've only got my short lifespan, perhaps another 50 years. i didnt get enlightened for enlightenment's sake, i got enlightened for this purpose, to keep going.

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7/2/09 3:54 AM as a reply to triple think.
"the biggest danger of non-duality is fatalism."-Tarin

Hi Tarin,

As I look around, I don't see that the proponents of non-duality are apathetic. Think of the Dalai Lama, or Thich Nat Han, or Bernie Glassman-roshi--"engaged" Buddhists, all. The idea that seeing things as they are prevents one from caring about others or doing one's own shadow work doesn't survive reality testing. In fact, the charge of apathy or fatalism has traditionally been leveled against Theravada Buddhists, but not against the non-dual traditions of Mahayana or Vajrayana, both of which explicitly value and promote compassion for others and action in the world.

"yeah. and once someone sees that, like really sees that, then non-duality dont mean a thing, and i dont say that flippantly cos i see it myself."-Tarin

There is a logical inconsistency here. To see rigpa is to be happy. Understanding our essential nature as it is doesn't create any problems for anybody. The idea you are expressing arises when you are outside of rigpa, remembering it. When this happens, rigpa is reduced to a concept. Our habitual, dualistic mind is notorious for becoming confused while manipulating concepts. Gotama Buddha said that we "mistake the essential for the unessential." We see up as down and down as up. The only cure for it is to stop mistakenly dividing the world into subject and object, which is the very definition of non-dualism.

Nonetheless, I'm sympathetic to the point you are making; for example, if someone said that heroin made them happy, you could point out that that is just a subjective experience, a cop-out. But rigpa is not heroin. The more you see rigpa, the more you come to trust it. It won't turn your heart cold or make you selfish. Quite the opposite, really. True compassion and selflessness can only come from seeing things as they are, in this moment.

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7/2/09 4:44 AM as a reply to triple think.
This is a 2 parter - First some context for those reading this thread that may not be familiar with this topic:
We have this body/mind. Most of the time we operate from the mind side – paying little attention to the body. Emotions are complex – they are composed of thoughts, sensations in the body (tension for example), mental imagery. There are feedback loops – for example: tension arises, from this arise thoughts, thoughts feedback and intensify the body sensations, etc. Anger (for example) arises (due to conditions) by touching off subtle sensations in the body (due to karma, habitual patterns of reacting, etc). Then what happens (as best as I can tell) is that when we are not very present with body sensations, these get overlooked or suppressed (the sensations are uncomfortable so we avoid them), the body energy is then projected into the mental world where it is perceived as thought and mental imagery. If we cling to these mental constructions as me and mine then we have fabricated our samsaric world.

The Arahat no longer identifies with these mental constructions as constituting a self but they still arise.

Kenneth: “What occurs to me so far is that if anger is arising, it is arising; noting its presence without deeper investigation isn't causing it to arise.”

(cont)

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7/2/09 4:45 AM as a reply to triple think.
Yes, this is how it seems to me also. It arises and that is just what is happening. And here is where things get tricky I think (for some) because what I am going to suggest may seem incorrect from a noting practice perspective. The tactic is to drop the mental 'side' of the anger (which may seem like suppression) and fully go into the body at the energetic level. This can take strong effort when the emotion – anger for example – seems strong and justified – easy to hold on to. So there is an element of suppression. But from the above discussion we are not actually suppressing the emotion we are rather focusing on the somatic aspect of it – by blocking the mental 'escape' we can force it (the somatic charge) out into the open – make it more visible to us – where we can work with it.

Once we can tune into that somatic 'charge', it becomes the object of the practice – to just sit with it on the energetic level and let it 'burn off'. If I start noting at this point then I can easily allow the mental activity to start up again which can hide the somatic charge – so the object needs to remain 'mind immersed in the body'. This burning can go on for minutes to months in my experience once some underlying tension has presented itself. Often I find that beneath it, after it has burned off, there may be an opposite energy that was 'trapped' and is now liberated. For example, under a charge of jealousy, I may find compassion liberated.

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7/2/09 6:41 AM as a reply to triple think.
@Kenneth

Please forgive me for saying so Kenneth, but what you've presented here doesn't sound to me like a methodology for dealing with one's shadows so much as a rationale for not doing so.

I really hope that this doesn't sound accusatory or disrespectful but this is precisely what I mean about hiding your bullshit in non-duality. I say this because it illustrates that by my having to say it, this bullshit, which really isn't mine, is now mine. As if I don't have enough of my own crap to deal with. Welcome to transference the twisted sister of projection.

Then you asked me some pretty tough questions about non-duality which is something I have been struggling with for thirty years. As it would seem that answering those questions correctly requires being smarter than the average Arahat I'm just going to call a time out and go into a huddle with both my dualistic self and my non-dualistic non-self for a while.

As I don't think it contributes anything useful to this thread, which is sincerely intended to be much more practical, I would like to move the questions you raised to a new thread:

"Is Non-duality Amoral?"

If you want to restate your thoughts there, please feel free. Otherwise lets keep non-duality out of this thread for now, at least until we have got some more focus on it. We could all use that, big time.

This is a "dualistic thread", it's all about being dualistic. For the purposes of this thread non-dualism can take a hike.

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7/2/09 8:36 AM as a reply to triple think.
"This is a "dualistic thread", it's all about being dualistic. For the purposes of this thread non-dualism can take a hike."-Triplethink

LOL. Fair enough, Nathan.

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7/2/09 8:51 AM as a reply to triple think.
Nathan, it seems to me that it would be beneficial for one to do this shadow work either before or at least simultaneously to developing their awareness.
So, how does one go about this?

Chuck/CheleK mentioned paying attention to the somatic sensations and energy that arises "the body energy is then projected into the mental world where it is perceived as thought and mental imagery.."

You said something quite similar, "If you do everything mindfully, with the light of as full of an internal & external awareness as possible, then the shadows start to become visible everywhere, both within and without. Then you can start to investigate and work with all of this thought & energy..."

OK, this makes perfectly fine sense to me, and I believe I've practiced this... but I've acquired lot's of tools from education and personal interest in the whole mind/body/spirit relationship thing. However, I suspect that many people on the path haven't gained access to such tools... so, how do they step back to do this shadow work? And, if their awareness is so developed, why are they not seeing these "shadows"?

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7/2/09 9:02 AM as a reply to triple think.
"Once we can tune into that somatic 'charge', it becomes the object of the practice – to just sit with it on the energetic level and let it 'burn off'. If I start noting at this point then I can easily allow the mental activity to start up again which can hide the somatic charge – so the object needs to remain 'mind immersed in the body'."-CheleK

All of this sounds right to me, Chuck. It sounds consistent with my experience of vipassana, as well as the theory of vipassana. And I think you make an interesting point that the mental noting, as used in Mahasi vipassana, can actually perpetuate the anger. I've never heard anyone make that connection before. If I understand correctly, you are saying that vipassana investigation *without* noting, as taught by Mr. Goenka and others (basically everybody except the Mahasi tradition) is more effective at burning off or transforming the energy.

In the interest of full disclosure, though, I must admit that after twenty years of enthusiastically practicing vipassana, both with and without noting, anger continues to arise whenever conditions are favorable for it. After training for so long to feel the body, it's pretty automatic now to go to body sensations whenever difficult sensations arise. I think it's an essential practice and definitely recommend it as part of a comprehensive enlightenment technology package. My enthusiasm for Dzogchen or Advaita should never be construed as an attack upon vipassana. The three components of the package as I see it are vipassana, the witness, and (sorry, Nathan :-), rigpa). I think it's always important to note that we don't have to do one practice to the exclusion of the others and that they all enhance and reinforce one another. It's the very opposite of an either/or situation.

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7/2/09 9:19 AM as a reply to triple think.
So was that fair enough or not? Hey, fine, but don't be sneaky about it. Make a case for how non-duality can overcome duality and we can carry on with it here. Otherwise it doesn't apply as anything more than a cop out from dealing with the bi-polar reality of duality - which you do appear to admit doesn't just make a graceful exit and fade out. I suggest we do it in the thread I made for it.

Hey man, I am all for finding a use for non-duality other than trippin', so give us the nuts and bolts or I am going to call 'mushrooms!'.

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7/2/09 9:26 AM as a reply to triple think.
One thing I wanted to add to my previous posts (33,34):

The somatic charge that I spoke of can be likened to a battery. In this sense we have a 'anger battery' that is drained by this practice and charged when we identify with it (the anger). Whenever I have an opportunity to work with the somatic anger charge the result is that I become less prone to feeling anger in the future (at least with the same intensity). It is as if this charge attaches to a given situation providing that situation with 'angryness' – so to the extent that I discharge the angryness the less it surfaces in any situation.

Shinzen Young calls this 'purification':
“As a result of this purification you will eventually experience an increased sense of oneness and
connectedness with all things; a decrease in negative emotions; a sense of happiness independent
of your circumstances; and the disappearance of imprints and limiting conditioning from the
past. Associated with this transformation of consciousness is a distinct feeling which I call the
“flavor of purification.”It is the good feeling that comes as a person is experiencing painful
feelings in a skillful way.”

Sri Aurobindo felt that in order to make progress toward super consciousness (awakening) it was necessary to also open up to our sub-consciousness – that 'each step upward is necessarily followed by a step downward'.

It would be great if all this ended at 4th path – but it doesn't.

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7/2/09 9:34 AM as a reply to triple think.
hi Khara

Well, as for question one, I don't know what to say about 'other people'. Do they even exist from a non-dualistic perspective? (sorry Kenneth, I couldn't help myself) I have learned, and this has come at considerable cost, that I can't do a damn thing for other people in terms of waking them up in any way. That is maybe the one thing that is entirely individually directed. You can wave your hands around all over the place but you just can not make people look at it.

I do think that we have this wonderful opportunity here at DhO to compare notes, so my thinking is, 'lets do that and see how it goes'. The way I make little micro steps in what I hope is the right direction is by stressing out about getting rid of stress whether that is temporarily or permanently.

I don't know that the path for me is actually particularly concerned with 'enlightenment'. The path for me is about suffering, it's causes, it's cessation and perfecting that cessation.

As for the second one, why don't the 'so aware' see this suffering, it's cause and the end of it? I don't know, it's not my place to say. For my part I'm happy to simply cop to still being pretty screwed up.

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7/2/09 11:10 AM as a reply to triple think.
A more favorable set of circumstances isn't quite the same as igniting or adding fuel to a fire. You can feel the summer heat, and start a campfire without setting fire to the forest, but it's probably better not to start the fire.